tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC October 22, 2009 7:00pm-8:00pm EDT
good evening, i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, release the tapes. when will dick cheney release his testimony in the infamous scooter libby case? when will we know how he defended his chief of staff's criminal behavior in the outing of a cia operative valerie wilson that led to cheney's top guy's conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice? and, according to the prosecutor, left a dark cloud over cheney's own head. i asked that question because last night cheney and his chief of staff both in tuxedos received joint honors from a group of ideological allies. cheney for being cheney, and his chief of staff apparently for taking the rap with the group called his service before self. that sounds about right. apparently dick cheney can't help himself. last night he accused president obama of waffling on our troops
in afghanistan and declared that the white house, quote, must stop dithering while america's armed forces are in danger. well, wouldn't it have been good if we thought a bit before sending u.s. troops into iraq? perhaps a moment or two of dithering could have saved tens of thousands of lives. all of this after the battle advice from the man who saw our troops in iraq get chewed up in a civil war. so what gives cheney any credibility to criticize this president on war policy? plus, congressman alan grayson just won't quit. now he's promoting his new website, namesofthedead.com on the house floor. the site allows readers to post personal stories about deaths related to the lack of health care in this country. but it also links to his re-election website, where people can make donations. so did grayson cross the line? we'll have him here to talk about it tonight. also, is the white house keeping a nixon-style enemy's list or are republicans just trying to smear the president by
making him look like their guy? the "hardball" strategists will break that one down. plus, a haircut for wall street. the obama administration listened to the critics and finally cut the pay by 50% of executives whose companies take government money. and it turns out bob dole and bill frist are opposed to freedom. did you catch that? at least according to congresswoman michele bachmann. her ideas on who belongs in and out of the party in the "hardball sideshow" tonight. let's start with dick cheney's latest attack on president obama. frank gaffney the president for the center for security policy where cheney spoke last night and was honored along with his chief of staff scooter libby. and ron reagan is with air america radio right now. good morning, frank. good morning, ron. let's look at what dick cheney said last night. this, i think, is the main thrust. let's listen -- >> having announced his afghanistan strategy in march, president obama now seems afraid to make a decision and unable to provide his commander on the
ground with the troops he needs to complete the mission. it's time for president obama to make good on his promise. the white house must stop dithering while america's armed forces are in danger. make no mistake. signals of indecision out of washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries. waffling while our troops on the ground face an embolden enemy hurts our cause and dangers are troops on the ground. >> what do you make of the words of the vice president? tough words, dithering, waffling, basically endangering our troops by not making a command decision timely enough. what do you make of it? >> well, i will tell you, many people on both sides of the aisle have concerns about where to go next in afghanistan. i'm very nervous, for instance, and a lot of people are about whether there's a middle way here we can see our way through in afghanistan. of course, dick cheney has every right to express his opinion about anything he wants to. but i have to say, of all of the
people on the face of the earth who lack credibility on this issue, dick cheney would have to be at the top of the list. he has gotten virtually everything wrong in terms of american war fighting over the last eight years, the eight years he was in office. iraq, threat to the united states? no, it wasn't. involved with 9/11? no. saddam hussein wasn't. did they har wore wmd? no, they didn't. could we ignore afghanistan for years while we pursued this war in iraq? no, apparently, we couldn't afford to do that. our own generals are now saying it's in a downward spiral. dick cheney has no, zero, credibility on this issue. >> let me go to frank. first of all, i opened the show tonight by talking about this case before the courts now. a judge is about to rule apparently that the testimony by -- much of it by dick cheney and defending his chief of staff. both of whom, by the way, you honored last night. i want to ask you why you honored a guy who is a felon, convicted purgerer, and obstruction of justice and dick cheney? you said his chief of staff was
responsible for service before self. you know, that strikes me as a guy who took the bullet for cheney. your thoughts? why are you honoring a guy for protecting the boss in your regard? >> we honor scooter libby as well as dick cheney and a whole gaggle of guys who served their country with great distinction. and that is not one of the things we recognized him before but i think the rest of the service deserved -- >> why would you put black ties on and dress up and give awards to these people. i don't get it. the president wouldn't pardon him. george w. bush didn't think he was innocent. you think he was? do you think he was? >> my thoughts on it, and my general feeling is he got a raw deal, yeah. >> he was innocent. innocent -- and he wasn't covering for the vice president? >> we know who told the press -- >> i'm talking about obstruction of justice and perjury. >> we know who told the press about this instance, and i don't think it was realistic. >> let's -- it just seems odds you guys giving wards to anybody you like.
a black tie and bringing up a convicted felon and saying here's a trophy. >> they served our country in a lot of different ways with great distinction. >> let me ask you a question -- should we get the whole story on that case ever, what the vice president's role was? would you like to see his testimony made public? the judge apparently is going to rule in that direction. >> i'm in favor of transparency, whether it's the president of the united states or vice president. >> the vice president won't leave town. there's a tradition you leave town after you leave office. but he sticks around like pearl, he's like holding salons and all. why did he accuse this president of dithering when the president is clearly trying to make the right decision. what's wrong with deliberation? wouldn't a little deliberation have been a good thing when we sent all of those guys to their death in iraq thinking a little bit before you act? your thoughts. >> i think that's a mischaracterization of what happened in iraq, and i think it's a mischaracterization of what's happening now. >> what does dithering mean? >> dithering means you're signaling six months after you adopted a strategy with much fanfare, you appoint a general
to implement that strategy, you said at the time you were going to resource it properly, but don't know what you're doing. you don't know what the strategy is. you don't know what resources it requires and you're not sure how soon you will get it done. >> new intel came in. new intel. karzai didn't win the election. he's not the leader. does that factor? >> these guys made the strategy six months ago. here's the point, chris, what we're watching is an unraveling that is happening in no small measure because the guys on the ground there are guys perhaps certainly the bad guys a lot of afghans in between are saying, we're not sure they're going to be here. >> right. >> and people adjust accordingly and that's not good for our interests if this is a war of necessity as the president said. >> ron, you get in here. i read the vice president's speech, and i thought it was a very strong case for the need for us to be in there and defend the afghan people against the taliban, the taliban forces coming back. the problem with this argument, it never really explains how we can ever leave. it's basically putting cement into a tree that's falling down
into the hole in the tree, putting cement into a dying tree and somehow saying, well, we can't be this cement, though. we can't stay there forever. eventually we're going to have to come out of that tree and the tree's going to fall down. i don't get the strategy of being the afghan defense force, which is what he seems to be recommending here. >> i don't get it either. you might want to ask dick cheney and maybe frank can the next time he sees him why if putting more troops into afghanistan is so important, dick cheney refused to do so when he was in office. george bush, his nominal boss, refused to do so. we need more forces in afghanistan to protect the afghan people, et cetera, et cetera, and fight the taliban, why was he so reluctant to do that in the first place? why was he so reluctant to get the job done in afghanistan in the first place, too? why divert our attention to iraq, a war that didn't need to be fought because iraq posed no danger to the united states, why do that and ignore afghanistan? again, the man has no credibility. and just one last point on scooter libby and dick cheney
being honored last night by frank's group. it's one thing to honor a convicted felon. it's another thing to honor an unindicted war criminal, and that is exactly what dick cheney is. he was as instrumental at anybody within the administration in pushing the torture policy that humiliated this nation in front of the world. so i guess you get a big prize for that, too. >> well, look, where do i begin? iraq was a war of necessity. we were dealing with a terrorist sponsoring regime that had access to weapons of mass destruction. we can debate that endlessly if you like. >> now it's access. i think they had weapons of mass destruction, frank. >> they did have weapons of mass destruction. >> the ones we gave them in the '80s? the ones we gave them in the '80s? >> let me interrupt for a second. retired from the national security network issued this response to vice president cheney's response last night -- the record is clear dick cheney and the bush administration were incompetent war fighters. they ignored afghanistan for seven years with a crude approach through counterinsurgency warfare best illustrated by, one, denying it,
two, ignoring it, three, bombing it. our intelligence agencies called the region the greatest threat to america. the bush white house underresourced our military effort, shifted attention to iraq and failed to bring justice -- bring to justice the masterminds of september 11. so we didn't catch osama bin laden. that's their case. >> it sounds like what we're going to do here is indict. all i'm saying is -- >> should we trust cheney as an expert on war -- >> a guy who history will record as losing afghanistan will not be dick cheney and george bush. if it happens it will be because of guys on this watch who apparently had access when they came into office to the counterinsurgency strategy that they said last march they wanted to implement. >> i agree. >> and now they can't figure out whether that's a good thing to implement or not. >> why did the administration shift from its march strategy which was counterinsurgency to what looks like something like counterterrorism plus. we're not sure where they're going to end up. >> or minus. >> i'm not a mind reader, of course. i can't tell you exactly what
president obama is thinking but i said as you brought up before, we now have a different situation now. you now have an illegitimate government in afghanistan -- if it was ever legitimate. but the election was a fraud so we're now dealing with a government that the afghan people doesn't believe in. are we going to make that government our ally in order to defendant those very same afghan people? that requires a little more thought. >> can i just say, ron, you have got a sanctimony factor here that is extraordinary. i hope you're willing to take responsibility for what comes next. if indeed -- if indeed -- >> i would hope that dick cheney would take responsibility for what he's done in the past. >> attack, attack, attack. >> well, frank, when it's appropriate, i will. >> let me tell you the trouble -- >> i'm not responsible, frank. i'm not responsible -- >> i'm not in charge. dick cheney was in his eight years. >> we didn't lose afghanistan during his eight years. >> oh, yes, we did. [ all talking at once ] >> not after 9/11. >> this is the old -- the cold
canard, losing afghanistan. frank -- >> you give yourself no credit by defending a man like dick cheney. >> one at a time. >> bear with us. >> every time you go in and occupy a country, you eventually have to leave. that's my problem with occupation as a means of defending the united states. once you occupy a country, eventually you have to leave. unless you say you're going to stay there indefinitely. >> or unless you create conditions in which you can stay peacefully. >> we have been there eight years. what have we done eight years. >> as in germany. >> is germany like afghanistan? >> and there were people. >> not in germany. >> yes, there were. >> when did this happen? >> the point is we had all kinds of operations going on by groups that were still trying to kill americans and others. >> i have to go back and check this. there were no activities like that in '45. >> there certainly were activities. was it a mass problem? no. has it been a problem since? no.
that's ideally what we would like to have in places like iraq and afghanistan. >> how long do you want america to be the jand arms of afghanistan? >> not at all. i want them to deny the taliban -- >> permanent occupation -- >> 20, 30 years. >> being present to support them -- >> at least you're open about it. a permanent -- >> permanent military role -- >> this is what i have heard -- a permanent u.s. military establishment in the middle east. that's what you want. in iraq, afghanistan -- >> i would personally like to have americans forward deployed because i think we wind up saving ourselves a lot of grief. >> the way we look at is an occupation force. >> that's what worked so far. >> if we have in fact helped them survive what the taliban is trying to do to them, i think they will be grateful to have us there, not regarding us as an occupation force that must be expelled. >> if you had to vote -- if you
had to vet right now -- let me ask you a question because i don't know the answer. ask questions, right, if you had to vote in afghanistan among those who were not taliban, would they vote for us to stay? >> rather than have the taliban take over the country, they would. >> it is different. it's exactly the answer. you said you don't know what the answer is. that's exactly the answer. they would rather not be ruled by the taliban again. and would you? would you, ron? would you want to be ruled by the taliban? >> that wasn't why we went into afghanistan in the first place, frank. that wasn't why we went in to afghanistan. >> ask yourself this -- would you want the taliban to be victorious in afghanistan? because believe me -- >> it's not just the taliban but islamists worldwide emboldened and powered. >> it is a red herring. you have no argument. you have no argument, red herring. >> one of the great things about american politics -- >> your father would be ashamed of you. >> oh, frank! you better watch your mouth about that, frank.
>> the group in this country that most resembles the taliban ironically is the religious right. thank you, frank gaffney, and thank you ron reagan. coming up, the florida democrat who says the republican health care reform plan was for people to die quickly. those were his words. he's drawn republican fire for that stuff and for his latest move today. he's coming to talk about it next. you're watching msnbc only on msnbc. can your body wash nourish this deeply? the moisturizer in other body washes sits on top of skin.
i think it dishonors all those americans who have lost their lives because they had no health coverage by ignoring them, by not paying attention to them, and by doing nothing to change the situation that led them to lose their lives. so i make this simple proposal -- i propose that we identify them. i propose that we honor their memory by naming them. they themselves can no longer speak, but their families, the ones who love them, they can speak, so i established a website called namesofthedead.com. >> wow. welcome back to "hardball." that was florida congressman alan grayson on the house floor earlier this week. his critics don't like when he was doing there. they also didn't like when he said republicans want people to die quickly. with us now, u.s. congressman also grayson. sir, thank you for joining us. >> yes.
>> it's an interesting thing you do in politics. you stick your neck out and you challenge the other side. you may even break the rules. was putting your website or whatever it was on the house floor a breaking of the rules just to be technical here? >> no. >> yes or no? >> no, no member of congress has even filed a complaint about it. it's just republican propaganda. the same thing happened when i spoke up before, they made a big to do about it. they said i was breaking this rule than rule and the other rule. and nothing ever came of it. they just lie. they lie in order to distract people from the truth. >> how -- they come up with a real fighter to knock you off in your district? are they going to try to get rid of you and put some money behind this guy? >> i think the republican party will. they spent $2 million last year to keep me out. but we established a website. congressmanwithguts.com, a money bomb for november 2nd. we just put up, we already have $100,000 in pledges. >> how did you get to be captain ka joans -- cajones? how did you get this role? how did you discover this thing,
this gutsy thing you do? >> i watch "hardball." >> okay. no more questions. let me ask you about the health care bill. i am trying to figure this out. i'm sort of a practical, political student, believe it or not. when i call the show "hardball," i'm trying to figure it out all the time. and i'm trying to figure out what you guys in the house are going to do. can you deal with all of the issues on the plate right now, abortion rights where there's apparently going to be kerfuffle on that, the whole question of how you're going to deal with the public option. can you really come as nancy pelosi, the leader said, the speaker of the house, and get something actually done in november? >> we have to. >> this november. >> there is no choice, chris. >> will you though? >> look, 122 americans are dying every single day because they have no health care. that's the fact. we have to move ahead. delay means death. there is no alternative. >> let's take a look at what john boehner, the guy i always think of as the guy who just blew a putt on the 18th hole. here he is, john boehner, looks like he just put down a cigarette, you know, and he just sort of blew a putt. here he is, john boehner, republican leader of the house, let's listen to his jeremiah today.
>> the white house and the congressional democrats know that there are liberal special interest agenda is not very popular. and now they're following a familiar pattern. when you can't win an argument based on the facts, launch vicious political attacks. and this chicago-style politics is shutting the american people out and demonizing their opponents. they're writing a health care bill in secret, even though the president called for all of this to be out on an open table and it c-span cameras in the room. >> that's not dan ackroyd, by the way. that was a real congressman. what do you make of this, the fact that -- that this guy -- well, he's got cameras, by the way, chasing around the oversight committee. they're getting to be pretty rowdy on the other side. is this going to be where one side accuses the other of trying to kill people and the other side accuse the other of being not american like michele bachmanns out there, always
talking about you guys not really being americans and her own leaders like bob dole not really even being for freedom? i mean, these charges are flying in politics today. >> listen, if you watch him on closed captioning, any speech, the closed captioning reads this way, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. their completely unfocused on anything that matters to anybody. they're the party of no and they're in danger of becoming the party of nobody. >> okay. do you like the leadership of your party? >> yes, i believe nancy pelosi's committed to improve health care for america and save lives. i believe it's going to happen because she's going to make it happen. >> do you like the leadership of the senate democrats? >> well, they got to move things along. we would have gotten this bill passed four months ago -- four months earlier if it was just up to the house. >> do you believe you will pass a bill the president will be able to sign by thanksgiving or at least by christmas? >> i can't think of a better christmas gift from america to america than health care for everyone. >> okay. we had an interesting development on the show, it got
rather heated a minute ago here, congressman. i don't know if you saw it. you might have been busy at the time. let me tell you how it happened here. dick cheney was out in black tie along with his felon, former chief of staff, who i think took the bullet for him in that whole matter, perjury and obstruction of justice. and he wasn't out robbing gas stations. his behavior was right there in the office under cheney's leadership. anyway, the prosecutor in that case said there was a cloud over cheney's head. the prosecutor obviously brought the justice to that guy scooter libby. he got convicted of a number of counts of perjury and obstruction of justice. the president even held his nose and would not pardon these guys, wouldn't pardon scooter libby. here's this guy with all of his inglorious background out trashing the president of the united states for dithering. your response? >> my response is -- by the way, i have trouble listening to what he says sometimes because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he's talking. but my response is this, he's just angry because the president doesn't shoot old men in the face. by the way, when he was done
speaking, did he just then turn into a bat and fly away? >> oh, god. we have to keep a level here. let me ask this, don't you have any republican friends? >> some of my best friends are republicans. >> okay. thank you very much. u.s. congressman alan grayson. just dubbed him captain cajonies. we will see if that sticks. up next -- the old "hardball" favorite, michele bachmann. she's back. she was out calling the democrats un-american. now she's calling big-name republicans, in fact one of them who got hurt badly in world war ii, sort of against freedom. she doesn't think they're part of the freedom agenda. that party's getting narrow. one in five americans now. if michele bachmann's in charge, it will be one in ten. that's coming up on the "hardball sideshow." you're watching "hardball." only on msnbc. that's my choice. because with national, i roll past the counter... and choose any car in the aisle. choosing your own car? now that's a good call. go national. go like a pro.
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back to "hardball." time for the "sideshow." minnesota congresswoman michele bachmann, the conservatives conservative is hitting back at calls from conservative stalwarts like bob dole and bill frist to work toward health care reform. here she is with fellow right wing shock jock laura ingram. >> the key words were a
pro-freedom agenda. anyway, first the congresswoman suggests on this show a while back that the media engages some sort of purge which she calls anti-american elements in congress. now she speaks of purging republicans for failing to defend the freedom agenda. didn't bob dole get himself blown to bits fighting the nazis in world war ii? we need to turn the music down and the roots and pearl jam who are now calling on the government of the united states to release the names of all the songs used in the name of interrogation. some of the cringe-inducing tunes, there's queens "we are the champions." "march of the pigs" by nine inch nails. and even songs from britney spears have been used.
one prisoner revealed that he was subjected to eminem's rap song "the real slim shady" for 20 straight days. i hear enough of it through open car windows. any way, does the obama white house keep an enemy's list? that's what some republicans are saying. that barack obama is like richard nixon. our strategist will debate that next. that's a hot one. today, cannot be how we'll use it tomorrow. there is no one solution. it's not simply more oil, more renewables, or being more efficient. it's all of it. our way of life depends on developing all forms of energy. and to use less of it. it's time to put our differences aside. will you be part of the solution? chevron. human energy.
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in florida. authorities say her death is being investigated as a homicide. the senate gave approval to an above inflation pay raise for the u.s. armed forces. military personnel will get a 3.4% increase, higher than the average annual pay boost in the private sector. the bill authorizes a $650 million program to build an alternate engine for jets. the bill funds weapons programs to which the pentagon and the president are opposed. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." it's no secret that president obama and his top people have been openly critical of the u.s. chamber of commerce of the insurance companies, of fox news
and, of course, wall street executives, not to mention rush limbaugh. they're after him all the time. but does calling out opponents mean you're headed towards nixon-era paranoia and drawing up an enemy's list? that's what republicans are saying, and one respected republican from tennessee, lamar alexander, say it could be what the democrats are doing. here he is with andrea mitchell of nbc news earlier today. let's listen up. >> the presidency is a very valuable institution, and it's diminished when the president brings street fighting and brawling into the white house. i mean, the idea of a president saying, i'm going to call you out if you oppose me or -- or it's coming very close to adding up all of the people who are against him or turning it into an enemies' list. >> a strategy the white house is following by singling out people like rush limbaugh, like fox news, like the u.s. chamber of commerce work? joining me now is democratic strategist steve mcmahon, who has an interest in full disclosure here, as always, he's done work for the chamber of
commerce. and republican strategist leslie sanchez, whose new book is "you've come a long way, maybe." i like that. is the president correct in singling out thomas donohue, head of the chamber of commerce, people like rush limbaugh on the air, as his enemies, not saying i'm making them my enemies but identifying them for as what they are, his enemy. are they his enemies? >> well, i don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out the chamber of commerce is going to be against a lot of his policies. >> do they want him to fail as president? >> no, i don't think -- >> they don't? it's rush limbaugh, he said he wants them to fail. >> that's an old debate. we've got past that. let's not discount the fact there were really high level -- i won't name their names but democratic political operatives who were counseling the white house to come up with enemies like rush limbaugh, especially
at a time when obama's approval ratings were starting to take a hit. he's just starting to get his -- >> was it smart? >> no. i mean, look, school board president knows that they have an enemies list. >> something's working here. the republican party is now identified as their party by one out of five americans now. one out of five americans. this includes utah and mississippi, south carolina, very conservative parts of the country. and including them all, only one in five americans say, i'm a republican. that seems to be very small. something's working here. >> something's working, but i got to tell you, i have been in rooms with tom donahue at times -- >> he's head of the u.s. chamber. >> when he was head of the u.s. chamber saying, we do not want this president to fail. >> as rush limbaugh said the exact thing. >> the chamber supported the president's stimulus package, much to the cha grin of a lot of the members. i think it is an interesting diverse. rush limbaugh, glenn beck, who are purporting to speak for the
republican party, who are saying they want the president to fail, which tom donohue is not saying. other people at the white house are trying to define the issues around. and to some degrees it's working. you mentioned, though, one out of every five -- >> are you sure it's working? they're building the paychecks of a lot of people on the right, first of all. >> it's working for rush limbaugh but it's also working for the white house in this sense. rush limbaugh doesn't have very high numbers. i don't think anybody with all due respect to mr. donohue in america knows who tom donohue is or really knows that much about the chamber. >> they know rush limbaugh, and they don't like him very much so it's good for the white house. you mentioned one out of every five voters that's republican now. you know the number going up is 42% now identify themselves as independents, which i think is evidence that obama during the campaign was right, people are tired of the divisiveness. >> but that's the point. obama ran on the plan that he would be a different type of voice, different tone in washington. let's be real, every presidential candidate runs on the reform idea. it's done a couple of things. one, you mentioned it's a distraction. is it a distraction, yes. because this effort, we're not seeing the momentum that maybe the president and the white
house wants to see on health care. maybe they haven't articulated their plan on afghanistan yet. but who knows, the white house is probably behind that messaging. but with respect to independents, how it hurts the republicans is every time it's looking as if rush limbaugh is the voice of the republican party, many independents, moderates, suburban conservatives step away from the party because they don't like that type of rhetoric. >> that's what's working for the white house. john boehner and glenn beck, and people with pretty bad numbers, >> john boehner made the shot today on the point. let's listen to him. >> if you look at these attacks on people who question the administration, you begin to wonder what the real plan is, and it really does to me look like a chicago-style politics, like they're trying to demonize their opponents and do everything they can to make them distasteful.
>> wow. i have a different take on chicago-style politics. it's not an awful as that. i think they've just been very clever, your party, in acting as if they're the only governing party and pointing a lot of attention not to john boehner. they never mentioned his name or mitch mcconnell. they never mention their names. they talk all about these noise makers out there. what do you think, is that smart? by ignoring the republican leadership, is that smart, and going after the enemy? >> the only fraction of support it may have given them is pulling along these independents, kind of having them, you know, pull more in the middle. he's lost a lot of independent support. i will tell you this much, it's never a good strategy to elevate your enemies in that sense. look at lyndon johnson. listen to those tapes. >> he wants -- he seems like he wants to elevate rush. >> john said the head of the three networks were communist. let's put it in perspective historically. they're going back to a strategy they think worked for them in the spring, identifying radio hosts. >> it did work for them in the spring.
they are the only party that's offering solutions to the problem. what they are doing very effectively is defining the republican party as the party of no, not so much, not so fast, not today. that's really been effective. >> dithering party. >> the dithering party, exactly, thank you very much. >> used the phrase yesterday. >> divide and conquer works politically. it's not necessarily a strategy that's going to get more people into the democratic fold but it's a strategy that's going to win for them on capitol hill. unfortunately. and it's going to be one that will play out in election time. >> watching the white house, do you think it's a deliberate middle of the night decision they made, anita dunn, their communications director, a real pro, do you think they put together a strategy with robert gibbs and axelrod and the president even enjoying it and participating in it, to identify a group of surly people out there that they think they did can make themselves look good by attacking? do you think they have this as a
deliberate strategy? >> they were all on the same message point. you can't say if the president was involved in that. but it's definitely political strategy 101. why elevate the enemies that way? does it point to distraction? >> do you believe they sat down and put this together as a strategy to say, let's go after rush, let's go after beck, let's go after the chamber? >> i think it's a strategy. whether or not it's affecting -- i don't think, frankly, the rush limbaugh/glenn beck strategy is more effective for attacking trade associations are in town. most people don't know what trade associations do and they don't care. >> they ought to know. >> they no what glenn beck represents and john boehner represents. the white house has been successful making republicans the party of no. they should stay on that tack because it's working for them. >> thank you. last word. >> they did this before. they're doing it again. >> it's great having you on, leslie. >> and loretta. all ls. >> and we're not related. >> leslie sanchez, thank you for joining us, steve mcmahon. you're the republican, he's the democrat. up next -- the obama administration is slashing -- i
love this word -- slashing executive pay packages to companies who haven't paid back the bailout. apparently they include country club memberships down by half. will that do anything to change the attitude on wall street? will that teach people or just make them feel like victims? we'll give the president's critics more fodder for those hyped-up socialism charges. is telling the reich people to bail out the people with government money who can't make as much as they used to, is that socialism? the "politics fix" is next. this is "hardball" only on msnbc. can your body wash nourish this deeply?
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you know, i've always believed that our system of free enterprise works best when it rewards hard work. this is america. we don't disparage wealth. we don't begrudge anybody for doing well. we believe in success. but it does offend our values when executives of big financial firms, firms that are struggling, pay themselves huge bonuses even as they continue to rely on taxpayer assistance to stay afloat. >> well, we're back. that was president obama using sort of a little soft soaping there as he goes after the executive pay packages. time now for the "politics fix." ron brownstein, political director of atlanta media. and pat buchanan, of course, with msnbc political analyst. pat, it's interesting when you want to put the knife in, you say it softly. he's so nice, like i do this out of more sadness than joy.
i'm taking away half your pay, buddy. i really feel very bad about it. >> i think the staff went in for the president. this is not going down well. >> but he's so soft. >> he's so soft. but this is outrageous. you get into this problem as soon as you get taxpayer money into private business and you have to run it. frankly, some of these big firms should have been allowed to go under. let them pay the price and let them deal in the market with their own successes, their own failures, their own mistakes. >> we did try that with lehman brothers, pat. that didn't go so well. >> how about a new rule, you can't have a lot of money unless you can explain why you have a lot of money. you know what these guys actually do? you know what they do to make zillions of dollars? >> and it gets more and more esoteric and more and more complex. and the social utility of it is complex. the social utility is unclear. the chief financial regulator in britain, lord turner gave a speech said many of these new products being created are more
about enriching bankers than creating any kind of economic -- >> it's been out there for years, right and left. they don't like it. one of our producers -- she's as tough on the left as you are on the right, right? i think if he hadn't done what he did yesterday with this fellow doing what he had to, do the pay master, if he hadn't cut these guys off at the knee, he would pay the price himself. >> 40% of the money being made a few years back is being made in the financial community, being moved around, all these hedge funds, all this nonsense, they don't produce real things. remember sherman mccoy, he couldn't explain to his kid, what do you do, daddy? mr. george rhodes, he's armit g armitraging bombs. >> we have this tremendously ambivalent society with wall street because we're all dependent on the stock market for our retirement.
>> i watch it early on this show and i want it to go up. back when i didn't have any money, i wanted it to go down. screw those guys. >> people feel better, the dow is at 10,000. >> are more people rooting for the market or against it right now? >> they're rooting for the market. that doesn't necessarily mean they're rooting for the market makers and participants. the broader point of the president on the financing, lobbying againsted all the enhancing regulation -- >> citigroup, bank of america, aig, general motors and chrysler, the list is out there. every one of the top 25 guys in each one of these firms is going to take about a 50% cut. half the money gone. >> personally, i just unloaded an awful lot of citi bank stock today because i think it's as high as it will go. frankly, they have a lot of stuff still rotten and commercial property coming down. again, they're government owned banks, they ought not to be paying themselves those salary,
you work for the king, take the king's schilling. >> come next november we approach election for congress and 30 some senators up for re-election and all 435 members of the house and senate -- of the house, rather, who will be making the largest pitchfork argument, the right or left. >> the right will have the populus rhythm. >> they will come out -- >> because obama is in charge of the economy. >> republicans may have vulnerability today. today, the house financial services committee passed the consumer protection agency. obama wants every republican but one voted no. >> you just answered the question why he did what he did. he can't take the heat. he has to go after these guys. >> you have to. 95-5 issue. >> preempt these things, forward leaning, guys like frank gaffney sitting here. we'll be right back with ron brownstein and pat buchanan to talk about dick cheney. he's back, like freddie krueger.
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an award from our buddies, grange gaffney here. they keep giving themselves awards, the american enterprise, all these front groups. they never stop giving awards and speeches to each other. there's rumsfeld. this is the gang's all here. >> chris, that's what journalists do, too. journalist of the year. >> poor scooter wants his law practice back. >> that's his folks. >> there's frank. >> part of the secret of conservative success, he wrote a book, their network of web institutions that support people when they're out of government to help get credentials to move into government something the left has tried to emulate in the last decade. it is always there as a safety net. >> he's out there getting awards, giving awards, wearing black tie, celebrating his very being. is that good for the republican party? >> i don't know. i think it's good for cheney.
it's a very powerful voice. he's saying what he believes, secondly, and he is jamming obama and so are the generals at the pentagon and they're going to get those troops. >> you think that will be the bottom line. >> obama can't keep it at zero. he won't pull them out but will give them 20, 30, 40,000. >> i don't know about 40. they thought cheney hurt republicans but in this environment we're in where part of the change for democrats is mobilizing the republican base. but for the white house, they believe the difficulty in the situation of afghanistan is directly a function of bush's failures to deal with the problems as it deteriorated especially in his second term. to here cheney come out now and blame him. >> that's a fair criticism of bush and cheney but cheney is elevating himself into a direct battle for the white house. that is not a bad thing nordic cheney. he's become the foreign policy defense voice of the
republican/conservative establishment. >> who lost afghanistan? perhaps tonight with frank gaffney -- the trouble is it encourages any president, right left or center to keep troops everywhere. when ever you pull the troops out, are you accused of quote losing. >> don't send them in. >> thank you. great. >> there are these shakespearian conversations between lyndon johnson and rich russell on the tapes johnson says exactly that, i can't see going forward or a victory at the end but if i pull the troops out i will be eviscerated by the right. he had exactly the concern. >> they will kill me if i do, i have to put them in, dick. this is an god-awful mess, what are we doing. >> you don't want the president to make a decision on those basis. there is a reality. >> thank you. join us tomorrow night at 5:00 and 7:00 eastern for more ""hardball."" countdown with keith olbermann starts righw.